Media Contact

Larissa Doucette

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) is pleased to announce that 128 schools and colleges of pharmacy provided the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment® (PCOA®) to 17,005 students during the first two testing windows of 2016. NABP is in its first year of providing the PCOA at no cost to schools/colleges of pharmacy for students nearing the completion of their didactic curriculum. This provides the schools/colleges the opportunity to comply with the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education’s (ACPE) requirement that schools/ colleges utilize the PCOA as one of their assessment strategies.

The PCOA is the only independent, objective, and national assessment that enables schools/ colleges of pharmacy in the United States to assess student performance in the curriculum and also provides school level data that can be compared to national outcomes.

“NABP is pleased to announce that student performance for the first two windows of the 2016 PCOA remains consistent compared to previous years despite the large growth in administrations,” says NABP President Hal Wand, MBA, RPh. “Steady results support the validity of the assessment and the reliability with which it evaluates students from a formative and summative standpoint. We commend the schools’ and students’ efforts to implement the PCOA prior to ACPE’s July 1, 2016 deadline.”

The PCOA is a computer-based assessment with 225 questions that cover four major content areas: basic biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, social/behavioral/administrative pharmacy sciences, and clinical sciences. NABP data shows that first-year students score higher in basic biomedical sciences compared to other content areas and, as expected, third and fourth-year students score higher in advanced content areas like clinical sciences. This observed educational growth shows that the PCOA is a valuable and integral education tool for measuring knowledge in pharmacy curricula while helping schools and students target student progression. The PCOA can be administered all four years, during any singular year, or any combination of years.

New PCOA items are written during item-development workshops throughout the year. Subject matter experts and pharmacy educators review and edit items, then select items for the various forms of the PCOA. To accommodate the increase in participating schools and students, as well as the variety of academic calendars, the PCOA administrations expanded from three to four windows in 2016. In addition, student registration moved online to allow students to register for the PCOA after creating an NABP e-Profile. Schools/colleges are able to confirm the roster of examinees prior to the scheduled assessment date. The administration of the PCOA has been standardized, and all proctors receive a test administrator guide to ensure that testing sessions are comparable across administrations.

To learn more about the PCOA and to see the remaining 2016 testing windows, please visit the Programs section of the NABP website:

NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its state member boards and jurisdictions for the purpose of protecting the public health.